When Haley was a teenager and we'd go shopping together, something magical (to me) would sometimes happen. Actually, it happened quite a lot: She'd come across a skirt, or a shirt, or a book cover, or a pretty dish, and she'd say "Mom! This looks exactly like you." She was almost always right; she could discern my style almost immediately. She could also do this with my mom's style, especially clothes. In fact, one day at the mall, we wandered through Macy's for a good half hour or so, just picking out clothes for her grandma.
(I should make a scrapbook layout about that story!)
In one of the latest Scrap Gals podcasts, the topic was style: how you develop your style, how you recognize it, how you use it as a place to start from and sometimes deviate away from; how know what your style is helps make buying supplies easier and certainly makes scrapbooking itself simpler. At least, once you embrace your style.
My scrappy style is fairly word intensive. My layouts always have a lot of journaling, and making the written story feel like a cohesive part of the design (instead of an added-on afterthought) is one of my major design goals. It took me a while to be comfortable with that aspect of my style, however, because in the Scrapbook World (TM), it's sort of an anomaly. The point of Scrapbook World is to sell product, and some of those products help you tell a story, but that isn't as important as using the product. I felt, for many years, like that essential part of my approach was somehow faulty because an emphasis on story wasn't something I saw very often.
Once I decided I didn't care what the Industry thought, I embraced that part of my process and never looked back.
Which made it much easier to buy scrapbook supplies, because if my focus (telling stories) wasn't problematic or weird (because I decided it wasn't), then my other scrappy quirks also didn't have to be problematic or weird.
So, in addition to my focus on stories, I realized I do have a style when it comes to the supplies I use. I'm not sure what to name this. An old scrapbooking friend once said my style is "Edwardian," which I am OK with, as long as there are flowers in the Edwardian world. And script fonts, but not the cutesty sort.
Anyway, whatever I might label my style, here are its elements:
- Clean-ish design elements. This might be summed up best by this statement: I am a fan of the fleur-de-lis. I love black and white designs, or one color + white. I am not afraid of flowers, but they have to have a certain feel—not too frou-frou. I like designs that seem elegant rather than fancy. And I sort of take a fairly active approach to avoiding elements that strike me as “cute.” (Not that there’s anything wrong with cute.)
- B sides of patterned paper. As far as patterns go, I almost always like the B side best. This is because the B side is usually smaller or simpler.
- Classic fonts. I can't tell you the last time I used a cute font. My favorite fonts are serifs; they might be sort of old-fashioned right now in the typography world, but for me they've never lost their appeal. I will use a sans serif font sometimes, too, but only a handful of them; it's hard to explain exactly why, but many sans serif fonts seem visually lazy to me. This goes for text; for titles, I actually really love a good, clean sans serif font. (But I won't argue with a good serif, either.)
- Script fonts. Here’s another ish part of my style: I love script fonts. I'm guessing they don't really fall in the "clean" category. And I'm fairly picky on what kind of script I want to use, too; it's got to be legible but still pretty. It can't feel too old and it also can't feel like a baseball font. Brush is OK if it's not too messy, except when I want something messy. Swoopy is also OK, but not too much of a swoop. It's complicated. But when I find a script font I love, whether in .TFF or sticker format, I'll use it quite a lot. (Yes...even boy pages can have a script font or two.) In fact, when I find a perfect script alphabet sticker sheet, I’ll usually buy four or five.
- Simple embellishments. Partly this is because I’m not really skilled at using a lot of embellishments on a layout. Partly it’s because once I’ve designed the title, I sort of feel done with using “stuff.” I tend to make one grouping of embellishments on a layout; I try to put it near the layout’s date. My favorite types of embellishments are words, hearts, generic shapes (dots, hexagons, tags), and small icons. I’ve recently fallen in love with camera images, and I have been a fan of the ampersand as an embellishment for a long time. If I had to only pick one, though, I’d always go for words. I love a cluster of words that match the layout’s theme.
- Mostly flat. I'm OK with puffy things, as long as they're squishy. But after scrapbooking for more than twenty years, one of the things I've learned is that stiff dimensional items always mar the opposite layout in a book. And scratch the sheet protector. Chipboard comes unstuck. Acrylic is beautiful but just too thick. So in my style I embrace flatness, unless the supply is flexible (literally…not metaphorically!).
- White-based color schemes. I don’t love grungy designs; if I have a choice I’ll always pick grey as an accent over brown. Except for fall layouts, and sometimes Christmas, I am drawn to supplies with a white (rather than cream or off-white) foundation. Recently, my favorite colors are those in the aqua/turquoise/ocean hues, but I also love purple (if it’s a clear tone), and pink when I can use it. I am always drawn to green supplies in the scrapbook store, but I almost never use them on my layouts—maybe because my photos tend to have a lot of green, so I want contrast? I love the recent trend of gold, but if I could choose I wish it all came in silver instead.
While I was thinking about my scrapbooking style and working on this post, I’ve also been deep into several sewing projects. (Five quilts at once, but who’s counting?) I realized that my design aesthetic for scrapbooking is really similar to my quilting aesthetic. Those five quilts? They each have several fleur-de-lis patterns, for example, and black-and-white florals, and some non frou-frou florals too. Which made me look around my house, and suddenly I was seeing my scrapbooking style expressed in several places.
I decided to challenge myself: I found a home item that reflects my design style and used it as an inspiration for a scrapbook layout. I picked this bowl, which I recently bought at Target because when I saw it I thought “if Haley were with me right now, she’s recognize that as something I would love.” I’ve been using it as a garbage can during my quilting process—I put all the little scraps in it as I’m cutting, so they’re not spread all over my cutting mat and counter. I might not ever use it for food…I think it will find a place in my scrappy space.
Anyway, here’s the layout I made that was inspired by that bowl:
And I think it’s a fairly true representation of my style. That aqua patterned paper on the bottom is exactly the type of thing that I love; there’s the cluster of words and a camera, puffy sans serif title stickers, and a good chunk of journaling. (The font is called Karu and it’s a recent addition; I think I will use it quite a bit.)
Maybe it’s the fact that I am smack in the middle of my 40s and I’m getting too old to care about what anyone else thinks. Maybe I am just growing more comfortable with myself. But I am glad I have a style that’s unique to me—and I’m glad I can find scrapbook products (and clothes, and fabrics, and pretty dishes) that reflect it.
Have you ever pondered on your scrapbooking or crafty style?